Friday, May 18, 2007

Amnesty, Yea or Nay?

It's a new and very happy day in the U.S.A for the illegal immigrant cohort, a group that is estimated to number in the neighborhood of twelve million. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts there are thought to be nearly two hundred thousand "illegals", several of whom, I must admit, I have personally employed. Frankly, I'm not sure if the official estimates can even be remotely trusted; I certainly don't trust official economic statistics, and with ample reason. In any event, everyone can agree that the numbers are substantial and meaningful. But that is where general agreement ends on this very contentious issue, as almost no group of any size can agree on the adviseability of instituting what is essentially an amnesty program.

Some critics assert that the new, pending legislation is nothing so much as a cop-out, and it is hard to argue that the authorities, who would prefer to craft a new law rather than enforce the onerous old one, are engaged in a massive dodge of responsibility. Another valid criticism, and one I find especially compelling, is that the new legislation is a bonanza for large, and small business interests, rammed through by the best Congress corporate money can buy. After all, if globalization has mostly been about exporting jobs where labor was plentiful, and most importantly, cheap, this is nothing more than an inversion of that process, where cheap and marginally skilled labor is, if not imported, clearly accomodated. So for the price of five thousand depreciated greenbacks, illegal immigrants who can prove they have resided in Freedom's Land prior to the beginnning of the year, can place themselves on the track for citizenship. For my own part, as the new legislation goes to the House for possible final approval, the one question I will continue to ask myself is, who benefits?

1 comment:

DED said...

I really haven't read the pending legislation, but those who have say that this is good for business and good for the illegals. After all, a crappy American job is better than a crappy Mexican, Ecuadorean, Brazilian, etc. job any day.

For the life of me, I don't know why the existing laws couldn't be enforced. The only reason I can come up with is that local businesses bribed/arm twisted their local politicians to look the other way and got their friends in DC to underfund border security. And now the laws have been re-written.

I have a friend whose family legally immigrated here from Ecuador. It was tough, as at times his mother had to return to Ecuador in order to comply with the law. He went to school and got a degree in network administration. He's a citizen now. He even confessed a few years ago to "thinking" in English instead of Spanish. Personally, I think amnesty is a slap in his family's face. Last year I asked him what he thought of the whole thing and he said that he hadn't given it much thought. I suppose he had more important things to worry about.

I'm a 4th generation American and I'm well aware that this is a nation of immigrants but I feel that there has to some sort of order to the process. Why did we ever abandon Ellis Island?